Review: You’re Saying it Wrong by Ross and Kathryn Petras

“You’re saying it wrong. It’s LeviOsa. Not LevioSAR.”

Yup. That was the first thing that came into mind when I read the title. Blogging for Books has this in their lineup so I didn’t hesitate to snatch it up. Thanks for sending it my way!

So… English. It is not my mother tongue. My English grammar, spelling, and pronunciation are far from perfect although I’ve seen and heard worse. Much, MUCH worse. I learned English outside the United States, in a classroom environment ever since nursery school. We had language classes for both English and Filipino, everyday, sometimes one after the other. It’s so embarrassing for me to commit English language errors and strive to better myself when I can. But I have to say, I knew how to correctly say about 90% of the words in this book.

I appreciated what this book was trying to do. The three-star rating that I gave is not because the books was “not good”. No, it was. Good, I mean. I found the authors’ humor and knowledge very enjoyable. A few times, they admit to making the same mistakes as everyone else. I liked that they included a short etymology per word. The most useful part of this book was the blue-paged inserts of mispronounced brand names and proper names. Surely, Youtube beauty gurus and booktubers could use that. (Seriously, take the time to look up how brands, shade names, and author names are pronounced. “I will completely butcher this,” is not an excuse.)

However, there are some words that I just don’t get why “most Americans” or “most English-speakers” mispronounce. Really. “Badminton”, “utmost”, “sherbet”? I mean, it’s spelled right there. WYSIWYG. Several entries explain the mispronunciation as “Americanization” where people add a letter or switch the spelling to make it sound or look “more” right. What? And it becomes so widely used that the dictionaries eventually take it for an acceptable, then, proper pronunciation. Well, why do we have dictionaries then?

And what’s with all the fancy French borrowed words? Not all people have the very basic knowledge of the French language, I get it. But I feel like that subtopic could be a book on its own. I actually understood the errors with the Italian words. They’re pretty much WYSIWYG also but we’re all just stubborn. Hah, as my foodie friend said, “Mascarpone sounds better with a Godfather accent that I will never have.” El-Oh-El.

Hyperforeignism is the term they used to describe the effort that English-speakers give to make borrowed words sound closer to their original pronunciation. And more often than not, they end up being so very wrong. I call it “trying to sound smart but you’re going to fail”. Well, not really but that was the thought running through my head as I was reading this book.

And the idioms. Oh goodness. “Nip it in the butt” — what the hell? I’m sorry but who makes that mistake? HOW can you make that mistake? I could only put down this book and shake my head at the reality that this is really a thing. I’ve never been more thankful for my English classes growing up.

I’m not saying that it’s American English being simple and lazy, that the speakers are lackadaisical. Language evolves. You have no idea how much grief I get with every Filipino/Tagalog vernacular that just doesn’t make sense or sounds so incredibly dumb. I just don’t get how a “what you see is what you get” gets to be said so differently. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Also, dictionaries are there as a guide for definition, usage, spelling, and pronunciation. If we go on and just make up our own spelling and pronunciation then why even bother with dictionaries?

Over all, I liked the beginning but it got tiresome as it went on. Call me a snob but it boggles my mind how people make these mistakes. If you are one of them, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Refer to it from time to time.

Rating: 3/5. I still want that brand/name guide for Youtube people.

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2 thoughts on “Review: You’re Saying it Wrong by Ross and Kathryn Petras

  1. Pingback: TOP TEN TUESDAYS | Bookish Holiday Gift Guide | Shelf Pickings

  2. Pingback: WRAP-UP | NOVEMBER 2016 | Shelf Pickings

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